New Jersey Sexual Harassment Laws

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Sexual harassment is a violation of New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination.  Sexual harassment consists of unwanted sexual advances by either a co-worker or a supervisor.  The law has seperated sexual harassment into two different categories:  (1) hostile work environment; and (2) quid pro quo harassment.

Hostile Work Environment

Hostile work environment harassment is based upon inaproppiate and unwelcomed sexual advances, sexual language and touching by either a co-worker, supervisor/manager or contractor.  The law requires that the unwelcomed sexual comments be considered objectionable to a reasonable person.  This reasonable person standard is an objective standard that the court and juries use to measure the conduct of the alleged harasser.  The law requires that the unwelcomed sexual comments be either severe or pervasive.  The severity depends on the actions of the harasser and is measured on a case-by-case basis.  Pervasiveness is shown by demonstrating the the unwelcomed sexual comments were made on a frequent basis.

Quid Pro Quo

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is based upon a supervisor's demand for sexual favors in return for a promotion, raise or other benefit.  An employee who rejects the proposed sexual favors is typically punished by the harasser by refusing certain benefits that the empoyee should receive or even terminating the employee.

Company Liability

The company that employs the harassing supervisor can be liable based on a single occurrence of sexual harassment because the company provided the supervisor/manager with supervisory powers.  In the event that the sexual harassment is peformed by a co-workers or peer, the victim is required to complain about the sexual harassment to a supervisor or a designated agent.  An employee that is vicitim of sexual harassment should review the company's handbook and policies to determine the complaint procedure. After the company receives the complaint, the company is required to investigate the allegations of sexual harassment and make sure that that the sexual harassment stops.

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